Macarons have got to be the biggest thing in Australia since the rebirth of the cupcake!
Masterchef sent the profile of the macaron sky-high in Australia, and a macaron obsession has become a mainstream pass time. My sister was actually the first person I knew who had a macaron obsession, all those years ago. Being a little more gourmet in her tastes and better travelled than I was at the time, she relayed the beauty of the macaron to me and I nodded and smiled with no real understanding of what she was so enraptured with. Even a trip to Paris and a true French Macaron later, my hubby and I still didn’t really get it. As I am now aware that I should have gone to Laduree, maybe Paul’s on Champs Elysee was not the place to start our macaron journey. However, we were given good local advice as to the grand tradition of baking there. Too large, too sweet and too dense were the ways I described my first macaron experience.
Then I started Bliss, and with my first wedding cake under my belt, my gorgeously, bubbly friend Pheanary, asked me to create a macaron tower wedding cake for her with my lovely’ White Celebrate’ underneath. Well, never one to shy away from a challenge, I was not fazed by all the bad press about the finnicky macaron. I had given myself 6 months to try, try and try again and warned Phen that if it didn’t happen that she would still have plenty of time to order from someone else. Then, the countdown began.
I googled and googled, spending ridiculous hours, poring over countless numbers of internet sites dedicated to the technique of great macarons. Syrup and Tang is the most comprehensive site that I have come across and is where the true obsessive can be found! I have to thank Duncan for spending so much time in writing down and adjudicating so much information. It was through his site that I discovered that my biggest issue was using the wrong baking paper! However, Joe Pastry http://joepastry.com/index.php?cat=171 was where I found my confidence again, “Pastry can smell fear”, it was a motto that I could completely relate to. I was always a confident baker, who believed in cooking from the heart. I do not like to bake with ‘retentive’ precision, and the whole macaron experience was sitting very badly with me. I just couldn’t believe that success or failure was going to come down to decimal places! Obsession started to set in…..hmmmm it doesn’t take much!
Exploding meringues that looked like mini volcanos, collapsed and soggy, burnt and crunchy, flat with a slight pancake look to them….yep, I ran through the gamut! Was I going to give up? No, I was going to start dreaming about macarons and shunning my family as soon as I woke up to turn on the kettle (some things never change!) and start cracking egg whites.
Then finally, hubby and I were able to taste test, :0 we couldn’t believe it :0, light, fragrant, slightly chewy and with that lovely little thin, meringue crust. Is this what everyone has been raving about??? Then I sandwiched them with raspberry conserve and chocolate ganache. Oh….my….goodness 🙂 Macaron Heaven. Converted for life.
So what did my success with macarons come down to?
- Adding 2gm of dried egg white to every 50gm of egg white (buy it from Leo’s supermarket $4.50 for a jar).
- I did not find aging the egg whites made any difference to the outcome
- Using the italian meringue recipe found on Syrup and Tangs website; http://www.syrupandtang.com/200712/la-macaronicite-3-the-more-reliable-macaron-recipe-and-a-few-tips/
- Using Glad baking paper, so that the macarons don’t stick, and will rise evenly to give you a nice foot
- Use nice thick baking trays so that the macarons don’t heat up too quickly
- Resting the macarons until they are touch dry, for me it is around 15-30 minutes, weather dependent. Check Syrup and Tang’s notes to find out why you rest them and what the resting time means; http://www.syrupandtang.com/201003/of-ovens-and-baking-and-macarons/comment-page-1/#comment-7032
- Test 3 macarons at a time in your oven to find the best temperature for you. Starting at 150C in 5C increments (if your oven will allow you) up to about 170C. Use the lowest temperature that you can get to without leaving an air gap. For me an air gap was a sign of too low a temperature in the oven.
- Bake between 7 and 15 minutes, again, test, test, test. Use the lowest setting that you can for as long as you can before the macarons become brown. Collapsed macarons with a wet centre were what happened to me when all they needed was an extra minute!
The macaron tower is still quite a long time away, but it looks like macaron eating could be filling in the months leading up to it! Happy baking, Cheers Lynnette